Oh, The Horror…

Remember what it felt like to get off of a carnival ride with questionable safety regulations — your legs feel like jelly, the sky is spinning and watching people having fun makes you want to puke…very similar to my current dilemma.  It was blistering hot, even that early in the morning.  The air even smelled weird.  My car sat there, mocking me with its shiny exterior, my reflection in the mirror somewhat distorted.  Or not.  I looked a fucking wreck.    Like a clown car ran into a lamppost, got electrocuted and I was all that was left of the remains.  My hair was all over the place.  Make-up streaked my face.  And my boobs.  Let’s just say that they were not where they were the night before.  The stick ’em up bra was apparently a time-release version that had expired.  And I noticed how eerily quiet it was, even being on a very busy 4 lane highway next to the interstate.  Where was everyone?

And then I realized why it was so quiet.  I was in the middle of a strip club trifecta.  My club on one side and two across the street.  One of them being the one Jen managed so the full impact of the night before hit me and I swooned.  My lightheadedness could have been the result of a couple of things.  The previous evening or the fact that I was in club attire in a strip club parking lot in broad daylight.  For people who work night hours regularly, the sun burns.  The vampire reference is no joke.  It burns your skin, your eyes, your soul.  I can’t tell you how many times my sister used to tell me how pale I was from the lack of sun…and I’m black!  (okay, mixed but you get my point)  The only time strippers brave the sunlight is if they have children or they have to go shopping for crap at the local mall.  Or dropped off next to their car after an evening at their local hospital.  It was just eerie.  Straight out of a B-horror flick.

Have you ever seen the exterior of a strip club in broad daylight?  Horrid.  It’s hideous, actually.  As I looked around at all three of these grotesque versions of adult funhouses, I had a sinister thought…I’m going to have to go in there.  Well where else was I going to get to a phone?  I’d like to point out that this is exactly the moment in the movie where I know someone is about to die.  And it’s usually the cute black girl.  I surveyed the lot.  It was filthy.  It’s to be expected, I guess.  What’s not expected is having to walk barefoot across hot asphalt with broken bottles, rocks and other debris.  It seemed to take forever…one foot in front of the other, watching foot placement, holding my breath…I finally get to the door.  Of course I expected it to be locked.  My life wouldn’t have it any other way.  But, alas, it opened.  As desperate of a situation as I was in, I still had to get a grip as I took in the smell and atmosphere of a strip club in the daytime.  It just felt so wrong to be in there.  Like church on Saturday – why?

Luckily, they weren’t technically open so there were no customers and if there were any dancers, they were still in the dressing room.  And the bonus?  The day manager happen to be the same from the night before.  Thank goodness he had been filling in for someone else.  He was able to fill me in on exactly what happen, including his surprise that my chest wasn’t bruised or in serious pain after the pounding it took.  I didn’t explain that my whole body was aching, including my face so my chest pain was probably just blending in among the rest.  I really wanted to get home.  In fact, that’s all I could think about.  Home.  Shower.  Now.  So, he called my buddy from the night before who had already told him to call her once I showed up for my car.  Apparently, she knew that I’d be in no condition to drive but that I’d probably try anyway so she took my keys.  As the club opened for business, I waited at the bar, nonchalantly trying to hide the fact that I had no shoes.  It wasn’t easy.  I was still wearing my fancy pantsuit so, naturally one would want to know what fabulous shoes would go with the ensemble.  I was so embarrassed, I can’t even relay it properly.

As I continued to wait and a few customers wandered in, I couldn’t help but think who the hell comes to a strip club in the daytime?  There could only be one motive, especially here, because we didn’t serve food, we didn’t serve alcohol, we served ass.  At least when a place served food and liquor, a man could fool himself into thinking that there are other reasons for going to a strip club in the light of day: ‘they serve a great steak’ or ‘I really just needed a beer.’  I just could not fathom wanting lap dances first thing in the early afternoon.  Who does that?  And who would want to work during those hours?  It seemed soooo boring.  But on the flip side, it eliminated small talk.  You knew what they came for and getting them to the private room might be a bit easier.  Plus, less competition.  Then again, and I repeat, you knew what they came for…Okay, I had heard stories about ‘dayshift’ girls.  And those stories continued long into my tenure at future clubs.  I have no idea if it was true, they were always rumors.  The one club where I worked day shift was in Atlanta and I was only there for two weeks.  I quit.  Enough said.

Finally, she shows up bearing gifts: my keys and phone.  I was so freaking happy.  She also offered to take me and my car home to Orlando.  This woman had a plan and it included her baby’s father outside in the car, waiting to follow us to Orlando so he could bring her back.  Thank goodness!  I have never been so grateful than that moment.  On the drive, she filled me in even further on what happen at the hospital, the vigilante strippers who tried to track Jen down (they failed, but their hearts were definitely in the right place) and what happen with Jen.  Actually, my other friend, the one who left me the note, filled me in on the parking lot scene.  Jen sped into the lot next to the club, threw me out, threatened to beat my ass, hopped back into her ride and sped away into the night.  Awesome.

I sat in silence for a while.  Everything that happen last night seemed like a dream…or nightmare.  I had to evaluate what I was going to do next.  Would I call Jen and clown, or be a lady and not speak to her ever again without mentioning the situation?  I had no idea.  I could not wrap my head around treating someone like that.  I wouldn’t have treated a sick, mongrel dog who belonged to my worst enemy that badly.  If I was going to dump a sick person (or dog) I’d at least do it at a hospital.  The reason that they’re sick doesn’t matter.  The fact that they could possibly not survive does.  At this point, I still didn’t know if I wanted to be angry with her or if her panic was somehow justified.  I know, I’m a bleeding heart but who can really say what they’d do in a similar situation?

I guess I just wanted to hear what she had to say for herself.  And lucky me, my phone rang.  It was her.

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2 thoughts on “Oh, The Horror…

  1. This is a compelling and exciting story. And you end with a great teaser.

    But, before I go on, I’m going to pause to offer a meditation on attitudes about race. I hope you don’t mind me doing this. One of the marks of good writing is that it enables the reader to see others in a different light. It is even more remarkable and rare that a writer will cause the reader to pause and look at himself in a different light. But, you have done that.

    In the course of relating denouement to this terrifying tale, you mention in passing that you were a cute black girl. In the course of reading your blog, I have been picturing you as a cute white girl. (Did I miss something in an earlier post?) The image in my mind had to change. This led me to ask myself some questions.

    The first is why I had pictured you as white in the first place. I like to tell myself that I am not racist. I suppose part of the reason is that most if not all people tend to have a sort of default mode, in which we think of the “normal” or “average” person as being like ourselves. Lacking information, we fill in the blanks based on who we are. There is also a racist social norm, in which the race of an actor is mentioned only if the race is other than white. The news identifies the race of a minority suspect, but not a white suspect. (I think that is changing, yet here I find myself subject to the same blind spot).

    But I have been having another, more troubling thought. I also think my image was influenced by the quality of your writing. I think you sounded white to me. Why did you sound white? Is it because you are articulate, display a subtle wit? Why am I surprised to find those characteristics in the writing of an African-American woman.

    And, how does your race affect the story? Do I have different ideas about how others have treated you? Would Jen have been as cruel and heartless in her treatment of you if you were not black? What were the races of the other women in the car? Would the hospital personnel have treated you differently if you were a sluttily dressed white girl?

    I’m sure some of these questions must have occurred to you. I know that this must be a subtext to many of your interactions. When you are treated badly, you can never be certain whether race played a role. It must also have a lot to do with your interactions with patrons: their assumptions about what kind of person you are.

    I hope you don’t mind me throwing all of this out in the middle of your blog. It has been a fascinating read.

    Now, on to the next chapter in your communications with Jen.

    • Hi Mike, thanks for such an honest and open assessment. It’s true that people have a social default – me included. And I, too, have a personal bias. I’m multi-racial and have experienced prejudices from both sides of the fence. But when I read and let my imagination wander through other musings, I visualize white people as well, unless otherwise indicated. As you get further along, I share a bit more regarding my own tousle with racial identity and ignorance. I’m loving all of your comments. Thanks so much!

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